Oh, my 90s

A couple of years back, I had written this post about the golden years of Bollywood music in my life – the 90s. The search for a restaurant within JP Nagar before we watched Talaash (at Gopalan) took us to Kakori Kababs & Curries. The restaurant review is for later, but what really made the day for me was their instrumental music collection of 90s Bollywood music. I listened to songs from Sainik, Imtihaan, Damini and it was amazing how I could remember most of the lyrics despite not having heard these in years! Just goes to show the power of those imprints.

Later, Talaash also took me on a sidetrack – memories, and I thought about how our reality changes massively over time. Many things that seemed to be the crux of our existence at one point in time slowly fade away into memories and then into archives of insignificance in the larger chapters of our lives. We can’t even mourn or be happy about them because we don’t remember them in the first place.

So the next day, I started working on this playlist, just so that every time I go through my YouTube channel, I would remember, and could help myself to a blast from the past. Music has always been time travel for me. Probably, many years later, when the memories surrounding these songs and the times they existed in slowly begin to fade, and they seem like a dream from years back, (what they say when they come across the lamp post at the end of The Chronicles of Narnia Part 1) this would be my crutch to go hobbling on that path. :)

until next time, the soul of music

Halo Dilli

No, I’m not shifting to Delhi.

Lara Dutta is not an actress I’m a fan of, though I’ve not been able to fathom why. And this was long before she became part of Colgate’s Namak Harem (after Koel Puri and before Sonakshi Sinha), so that, though enough, can’t be the reason. However, Vinay Pathak is an actor I like, especially in roles in which he is a silent sufferer. (remember Dasvidaniya)

Things thus balanced out, I decided to watch Chalo Dilli. Vinay’s Manu Gupta is awesome as ever, and Lara Dutta actually surprised me with a decent performance, and the ‘bhaisaab‘ and ‘behenji‘ shared an excellent chemistry throughout the road trip. Yana Gupta has always received an excellent chemistry from my side and that continued with her rendition of ‘Laila o Laila’. Since this isn’t a movie review, I’ll stop at that, and let you read a legit review by my favourite reviewer. Not a movie I’d fancy at a multiplex, but easily one that I’d buy a DVD of.

Somewhere during the movie, probably the scene where Lara is surprised by the joy of seeing a sunrise, I had an epiphany of sorts – that I might have a better shot at joy if I didn’t pre-decide what could give me happiness. The templates that I form – movies, shopping, vacations, reading etc probably make me shrug off opportunities when they present themselves. In fact, I probably go out of my way to ignore them and prevent them from arising.

It also made me think of the flip side – unhappiness/sorrow. Would I be better off if I decided what are the things that would really make me sad, instead of being upset over every minor derailment of plans? The ideal is to be able to treat happiness and sadness with the same calmness and even further, detachment, but until the time I get there, this is probably a good measure.

until next time, chalo comment, don’t dilly dally 😉

Lankan Reams – Day 4 – Bentota

Beachbumming. Remember? But first, the leisurely breakfast at the Hotel Suisse. A brown version of ‘pittu’ as well as ‘milk rice’, this time with fish curry! The restaurant is a ballroom and you still have the gallery upstairs. I could sense a huge colonial hangover, not because most of the guests seemed Euro and the breakfast had ham and eggs and bacon, (slurp) but because the music, architecture, room decor – everything looked as though the British were expected back at any moment. Later, I realised I could say this of the city as a whole, and even Colombo, but that’s for later.

We passed a highway museum and a bridge that dated back to 1826, and on the way, also saw what looked like a dummy of Sigiriya. This one was apparently called Bible rock, because it looked like a closed book too. Thank God they didn’t have toasters then. But hey, this is one beautiful country, and since its way smaller than India, it scores much higher on the beauty/sq km. 😀

The next stop was the Spice Grove, which grew and sold spices and herbs. We were given a tour by an enthusiastic guide who showed us the source of vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, pepper, aloe vera, nutmeg and so on. The complimentary herbal tea was amazing. We responded to all the enthusiasm in kind,  and cash, since they sold the stuff there too. But it was a very interesting visit indeed.

Vanilla Cocoa Pepper Cinnamon

Further along the way, the guide also told us about a fruit called Duriyan, which when soaked in water overnight turned into gel. The Chinese consider it an aphrodisiac. The Chinese just need an excuse, I think.

We stopped at an outlet called Juiceez on the highway. Now is a good time to say that in lanka highways, except when construction is going on, are amazing, though cops play spoilsport by not allowing to go over 60 kmph.The mango juice craving was laid to rest. We also spotted a poster girl for Farmville. Actually Juiceez is doing a good job by having farms across Sri Lanka, encouraging people to cultivate whatever they can, and serving a neat variety of juices, though the pricing is a tad high.

We finally reached Bentota late in the afternoon. The Bentota Beach Resort is owned by the same group as Chaaya Village, but the latter is a few cuts above. The hotel opened into the public beach, and in the evening, we walked along the beach. The sea on this coast (side) is quite rough at these times, but we had a good time, attempting sand castles shacks and chasing crabs. When we returned, the part of the beach in front of our hotel was getting ready for some ceremony.

At dinner, I finally managed to have that elusive dessert – Watalappan, whose prices had risen from Rs.250 to Rs.350 to Rs.400 as we traveled from Chaaya Village to Suisse to the Bentota Beach Resort. This is why buffets are loved. Pork and desserts competed for our attention, but Watalappan disappointed. For some reason, I had assumed there was chocolate in it, there wasn’t!! Choco Watalappan is being conceptualised as we speak! Hmmph.

After dinner, D went off to see a dance show, while I lazed around watching Jonathan trying to win an immunity in the Celebrity Chef challenge. He didn’t, and D reported that the dance troupe had danced to ‘Kal Ho Na ho’. Bollywood stars are very popular here, and I wondered about the pop culture influence. Not the token premiere in the US type, but ads, music, seeping in and becoming accepted part of daily lives. Our guide’s favourite stars were SRK and the Artist Formerly Known as Kajol, (sorry, can’t recollect the link to that awesome post) and he was quite up to date on Bollywood gossip!! We are finally exporting culture! And we fell asleep with pride.

Coming Up Day 5. Click here for Days 0, 1, 2 ,3.

Collective bargain

“The way they speak about dinosaurs now, a few years later, that’s how they will talk about the mill workers”, says a character in City of Gold, a Hindi film by Mahesh Manjrekar, adapted from a play by Jayant Pawar. Its based on the Great Bombay Textile Strike. A decent movie, with some great performances and with its share of stark realty, though parts of the second half had a Bollywood melodrama hangover. I guess the response at the multiplexes (many of which are ironically what the mills gave way to) wasn’t really great either. But it was a story that had to be told.

The subject has interested me earlier too. To be precise, in 2005, my last official trip to Mumbai. The office was at Peninsula Center, and when I looked out through the windows, I could see a few chimneys. I wondered enough to come back and read up a bit. I was curious because amidst the RGV underworld flicks and the contemporary images I had of Mumbai, this seemed to be a part of history that had never figured in conversations. A legacy that seemed to be buried in the collective consciousness.

A single movie might not really be enough to cover the individual lives that were affected, though it does try to portray a microcosm. But as the line in Frost/Nixon goes “You know the first and greatest sin of the deception of television is that it simplifies; it diminishes great, complex ideas, stretches of time; whole careers become reduced to a single snapshot.”

Though it is said in a different setting, and context, the connect I sensed was legacy. How a person is perceived by a later generation. Artists have their paintings, actors/directors/crew have their movies, politicians, sportsmen/women have their auto/biography/memoirs, authors have their books, musicians have their music, they have a better chance at being remembered by a larger number of people, long after they’re gone, a better chance than us, the commons. A  collective’s legacy would be the place and time they lived in  – the larger picture, their collective actions, the people who became popular, the events that shaped the future. What happens if a collective chooses not to remember, or chooses to remember only parts? Who does it matter to then?

until next time, decadent chronicles

Lost Shopping Destination

L. I have loved Bollywood for a long long time. Though I’m more a fan of the ‘unBollywood ‘ movies (best represented by our poster child Abhay Deol)  these days, the first love retains its charm. I have written about this before, and am especially happy when I find others who share this interest – Mo, Meeta, TCP, and even Cyn, though elitist that she is, she  will never admit to watching the snake video multiple times.

S. The interest, in my case, also extends to the fringe players in that field – remember Ramsay brothers, and that cool show called Toofan TV on Channel V, which was based on all the howlarious stuff that got made – desi Bond movies, snake movies, and yes, most importantly the sleaze genre, carefully camouflaged in horror/jungle  themes, and the resources for which were awfully scarce then. An era before computers, personal or otherwise.

So, here I was, at our regular DVD shopping place – Temptation, on Church Street, and what do I see?

10042010168 10042010167

Golden oldies! Now the name made sense. Yeah, I know its all over the net now, and access is easy, but real shelf space!  And hey, mine is a generation before remote controls happened, you have no clue how difficult things were. S3x was a 3 letter word, and 4 letter words were only beginning to be formed, and we had to look away or were asked to go to another room, when some stuff did appear on screen! So you see, its easy to get emotional about such things!

D. Refused to let me buy them. 😐 As a consolation, I got the Love,S3x,Dhoka DVD (priced at Rs. 69, kid you not) 😀  . 2 months later,  armed with a more fierce resolve, I arrived, and noticed that Temptation had given way to a computer games store.

until next time, prnic healing :)

PS. Other Temptations flourish on Church Street.

Sikkim Day 5 – Amitabh Falls and Feats at 17100 ft

This was the big day, the day we would visit the lake at 17100 feet – Gurudongmar. The driver said that the earlier we started, the better. Our versions of ‘early’ obviously didn’t match, and we left, with me still in REM mode, at about 5 AM. For the record, that’s practically the day before, not early morning.

But the views of the sunrise, as we moved past heavily wooded mountains was worth the early start. We stopped at Thangu for breakfast – eaten in a tiny ‘hotel’, as we warmed ourselves next to the stove. Breakfast consisted of Maggi noodles with loads of chilies. Thangu also serves as the first loo break. I use the word ‘loo’ very loosely here, it is a shack with a hole in the ground, hopefully with some moving water way down that will ensure that you don’t get to know the intricate details of what the previous occupant had the day before. Thangu also has a military camp, and a tourist guest house, where, the driver said later, he had picked up a trio of Dutch cyclists a few days back. (they cycled till there from Chungthang!!)

1 2

The next stop was at Gaigong, where the military guys checked our papers, and warned our driver to refrain from using his army fatigues style jacket. They didn’t notice my umbrella. Immediately after Gaigong, we noticed some yaks having their breakfast.We moved on, and gave a lift to the yak owners. We dropped them off a while later, at a place which offered no shelter from rain or sun. The driver said he pitied them, because they were refugees from Tibet, who hadn’t even seen Gangtok. They survived on yak milk, and provisions the army sometimes gave them.

13 14

The terrain was barren, but breathtakingly beautiful, literally. The driver advised us to munch on popcorn we’d purchased at Thangu, as its smell apparently boosts the metabolism. Ok. We raced with another cab and had fun climbing the last 1000 feet.

3 4

5 6

I asked the driver where the name Gurudongmar came from and characteristically, he gave me his own bizarre explanations. I was tempted to give it right back to him with an equally bizarre ‘Guru -Dong – Mar’ version, based on ‘Tehelka’, the Bollywood film. (featuring Amrish Puri as Dong, and Dilip Dhawan – ‘Guru’ in Nukkad. Amrish Puri actually kills him after this song.  Mar. Note that the film also deserves credit for the first use of the Avatar hairstyle in Bollywood)

Gurudongmar is quite a beautiful place, and has many stories associated with it, as I learned from the military camp at Gaigong later. Drinking the  water from the lake is supposed to help women conceive. Also, one part of the lake, apparently marked by the Guru in question at the behest of locals who needed drinking water, remains unfrozen even in the coldest winters.  The lake is at 17100 feet, and you tend to struggle for breath sometimes, but if you have erm, enough airs, you can take a walk around the lake, while watching most people participate in a puke fest. I was afraid for D, but she seemed strict about her retch workout timings.

7 8


The return journey was relatively uneventful, though we detoured a bit for the Chopta Valley view. Photography is prohibited in military areas, and the driver raced ahead when I asked for a single shot of the ‘café at 15000 ft. We got back to Lachen by 1.30, and after lunch, immediately set out for Lachung, 50 odd kms away. Bollywood refused to leave me as the stereo played a remix of ‘Saat samundar paar’ from Vishwatma!! Awesome! The only tourist attraction was Bhimtala falls, according to the driver, who also said it was more popularly known as Amitabh Falls, because of its height.


We reached Lachung by 5.30, and settled ourselves in a room with a view, and I started reading “Chasing a monk’s shadow”. Dinner was significantly better though D refused to the chicken, after her nocturnal adventures of the previous two nights.

Seedy Saanp tales

Disclaimer: This is one of those trippy posts written purely for indulging the self. :)

It all started when we realised that we could never find Nagraj when work had to be done. Some even said he never responded anyway. And that’s when I suggested that we get a been, so that he would be forced to respond. And then I wondered if a been came with a been bag.

I nagged him about why he went missing. He said he was a movie buff and held the job only to pay bills. His favourite actress was Nagma. He slithered out to watch Bollywood snake videos on YouTube. That was his escape from the snake pit we called office. He called it his cobra pause.

Nagraj obviously had a bean bag, which he refused to lend. I challenged him to a game. Whoever got snake eyes first in a game of dice wins it. I was a charmer, but Nagraj was a hood. Punch me he did. He kept the bean bag, and I could never be a has been.

until next time, been there, done that

Head Trips

Sometime back, a friend and I were discussing Bollywood in general and then we somehow landed up on the subject of Aditya Pancholi. Oh, okay, if you’ve forgotten him already, refresh your memory with Wikipedia.  The last I heard of him was when he tried to give Kangana Ranaut a lift, the story was she didn’t want it. During the discussion, I was able to ‘regurgitate’ information about him, stuff I’m guessing few track, since she is also a Bollywood buff , but wasn’t able to recollect. No, don’t go away, this post is not about him.

This is about the place that gave me different kinds of education at different stages of my life. A couple of years after I started going to school, I was also deemed responsible enough to go to the nearby barber shop and get myself a haircut. After a few months, it was noticed that the time I took was way longer than warranted. I tried to get away by saying that there was a crowd before me, but my mother had a sneaking suspicion that I was playing cricket for a while before I came home. I wasn’t lying, but she was close to being right too. The barber had realised that I could easily be persuaded to wait, while he dealt even with those who came after me, if he gave me the video games he had. The complete version of the truth was discovered after a few months, when a rather long gaming session caused quite a stir at home, and my gaming education lost its continuity.

In later years, after my childhood faults were forgotten/forgiven and the time I spent outside wasn’t so strictly regulated, it was noticed that  my haircut trips had suddenly regained their lost long duration. Though I claimed I was spending time with guys i knew, my mother had a sneaking suspicion that I was with friends of the opposite gender. I wasn’t lying, but she was again, close. For these trips was also when I caught up with Sridevi, Juhi, Madhuri, Kimi, and later, Raveena, Karishma, Urmila, Manisha etc, in addition to Big B, Mithunda, Jackie Shroff , and later Govinda,  Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Chunky Pandey etc –  Filmfare and Stardust were read from cover to cover diligently, and random bits of information about actors and actresses were stored. They were always surprised at home, when I expounded on actors’ and actresses’ lives and the gossip surrounding them, since we never got the magazines at home. Some of the Bollywood education has obviously been retained in the memory bank even after more than a decade.

This magazine habit still continues, despite getting a daily fill thanks to newspapers, TV and the web, who consider Big B catching a cold breaking news. When we move to a new location, and I have to go to a new salon, I make sure that the place is well stacked with magazines. There are so many more sources, and so much more content these days, but reading the magazines is a way of being in touch – with the past.

Meanwhile, my paternal genes attack me from the temples and my maternal genes attack me from the vertex. When it happens, I’ll miss the hair, and the heady education, the haircuts provide. :)

until next time, fountainhead :)